From the Author
We humans are a bizarre lot because our ability to work together on complex endeavours - a skill that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom - can also operate in negative ways. For example, we can put a man on the moon, yet many couples who have committed to a partnership based on love, fidelity, trust, respect and mutual support, cannot so much as rearrange furniture without having a domestic dispute.Why do some projects end up like domestic disputes, yet others that are infinitely more complicated succeed, and thus push the boundaries of what humanity is capable of? Can we learn something about what makes successful projects by focussing on (seemingly) trivial matters such as who does the dishes after dinner or who holds the remote control while watching TV? We believe so. Our book justifies this claim, and provides rigorous, field-tested ways to tackle such social complexity in organisations and projects.We assert that the number one reason organisational initiatives fail is because they attempt to implement solutions without first developing a shared (or common) understanding of the problem. This leads to chaos, confusion and unhappy stakeholders. Yet even when these symptoms are recognised, the solutions that are applied generally hinder rather than help. Whilst there is substantial published research that offers insights and answers as to why this happens only truly nerdy people ever bother to read it. Consequently there is a gap between professional practice and research.We've studied the work of many academics who have recognised and written about this. The problem is that these works challenge many widely accepted managerial practices. As a result these ideas have been rejected, ignored or considered outright heretical, and thus languish (largely unread) in journals.We love heretical ideas - particularly when they support conclusions we have reached through our professional experiences. However we like readability even more - interesting ideas are no good if they can only be understood by PhDs. We believe such insights are best conveyed through stories and analogies that people can relate to and so we have written this book in an accessible, relaxed and conversational style.
From the Back Cover
When it comes to solving complex problems, we often perform elaborate rituals in the guise of best practices that promise a world of order, certainty, and control. But reality paints a far different picture, which practitioners are often reluctant to discuss. A witty yet rigorous journey through the seedy underbelly of organisational problem solving, The Heretic's Guide to Best Practices pinpoints the reasons why best practices don't work as advertised and what can be done about it.
"Hugely enjoyable, deeply reflective, and intensely practical. This book is about weaving human artistry and improvisation, with appropriate methods and technologies, in order to pool collective intelligence and wisdom under pressure." - Simon Buckingham Shum, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK
"This is a terrific piece of work: important, insightful, and very entertaining. Culmsee and Awati have produced a refreshing take on the problems that plague organisations... If you're trying deal with wicked problems in your organisation, then drop everything read this book." - Tim Van Gelder, Principal Consultant, Austhink Consulting